compass on a map, values clarification, sex questions answeredWhen you get ready to talk to your kids about sex, do you ever ask yourself,

“What are my values about this topic?” 

“Where did I get these values?”

“Have I thought about other points of view before settling on this value?”

Before I went back to study sexuality, I can’t say I ever gave any conscious thought to clarifying my values around sexuality. But other people’s values were loud and clear and I know I internalized those messages within this social contract. Messages like:  

Don’t have sex before marriage. 

Masturbation is evil. 

“Why would a man buy the cow when he could get the milk for free.” 

Sex is for making babies. 


In fact, I dare say it would have been difficult for me to name 3 values I wanted to live tying parenting and sexuality. My actions were reactionary. Definitely hardcoded by my parents and adults around me. Without thought, my early approach was “Do as I say, not as I do.” 

Does this sound familiar?

I reflected a bit when I realized this: I wasn’t living the things I valued and wanted to pass on to my kids. Check this helpful chart to see if this sounds like you: 

If you value this… Did you, or do you do this?
Honesty …lie about sex to your kids? About other things?…say things like, “You’ll get hair on your palms if you masturbate”?  
Trust …sneak out of the house?   
Vulnerability …share your experiences when your kids ask? …admit when you’re wrong? 
Acceptance …tell your kid you’re going to disown them if they get pregnant?(Notice how this value goes along with unconditional love)
Problem solving/ Resourcefulness …get mad at your kids if they look at porn? 
Authenticity …scold kids when they don’t follow a template someone else has set for them?

How do our values show up IRL?

Have you ever googled a sex term you didn’t know? Well, kids do that too. They use the internet to search for sex-related stuff just like we do. Maybe, they’re trying to get an answer for something they heard on the playground (yeah, kids talk shit on the playground). They’re problem-solving and being resourceful

How do you feel about your kids sneaking out of the house? My kids know that honesty is a value of mine; I’m not nearly as mad if they tell me something before the info gets to me. 

(As an aside, I also view this as a safety issue. Heaven forbid the kids are drinking and pile in a car with a drunk driver. I’d prefer my kid calls me to get a safe ride home. I hypothesize that this sneaking behavior eroticizes “getting away with something” and might not be a good thing in the future. I.e., is this what contributes to “cheating” behavior?) 

We all hold values, and our family values may be unique to our family. What tends to trip people up is a lack of real awareness and clarification of those values. We hold these values inside without discussion, and likely, without examination. 

Families have different values about sex too.

Values about sex and subsequent beliefs about sexual behaviors are all mixed together. It’s important to also help your children evaluate what values they have. Spoiler: they may or not match with yours. They’re your children, but they are not exact copies of YOU.  

Bonus: I’ve created a Values Clarification worksheet that shows you how to determine your values on this topic. This includes a list of values you can choose from to get quick clarity.

I had a tough time naming this tool as the word “values” has gotten mixed in with politics and religion. Yet values are essential to communicate behavior with our communities. They’re a great start for consciously defining what’s important in our families.

Now it’s your turn. Drop a comment below or send me an email and let me know: Did this values clarification help? What values do YOU hold? When did you become aware of them?

With pleasure,


About the Author

The MamaSutra

Dr. Lanae St.John is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and certified sex coach with a background in sexology and a passion for helping people improve their sexual health and relationships. She is the author of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"" and the upcoming "You Are the One: How stopping the search and looking inside will lead you to your romantic destiny," and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. Dr. St.John aims to share her knowledge and expertise in a relatable and approachable way through her blog on

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